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Vowing to turn down a paycheck until he can lower the sales-tax rate from 9 cents to 8 cents or less, Marine Corps veteran and City Council critic Terry Smith announced plans today to run for mayor of Decatur for a second time.
The council had to approve the controversial 2001 penny tax increase only because it ignored warnings that it couldn't afford an earlier bond issue, Smith said.
"This City Council has proven to be fiscally irresponsible," he said. "I believe personally if we lower the sales tax back to 8 cents, it will influence people in coming back to Decatur to shop and there will be more money coming in than now at 9 cents. Personally, I think we should give a rebate, maybe lower it to 7.5 cents for maybe six months to get publicity and show people we're serious about running government efficiently."
Smith also is proposing:
# A better attitude at City Hall, including a "rapid response unit" to handle citizens' complaints required to respond within one day.
# Recruiting more white-collar business, including a research park.
# Subleasing Point Mallard Park to private enterprise.
Smith, a retired military pilot, said he believes the city could have enjoyed the same 15 percent growth rate as Madison had the tax been lower and City Hall been friendlier toward business. Instead, Decatur has remained flat in population, and some business has left the city, he said.
Smith hasn't held office, but he's an experienced campaigner. Since moving here in 1985, he has run for five offices. He ran for probate judge in 1988, state Senate in 1990, the U.S. House in 1992, mayor in 2000, and again for state Senate in 2002, all on the Republican ticket.
In the 2000 mayoral race, he accused the city of leaving his name off ballots.
Smith is also president of the local Citizens for a Sound Economy chapter and for the past year has hosted a political talk show on WYAM-TV that is now called "What is Your Opinion?" He plans to continue the show if elected.
"I think communication is the most important thing," he said.
Smith is the third person to announce his candidacy for mayor.
Businessman Don Kyle and real estate agent Jim Robison also are competing for the job. Mayor Lynn Fowler hasn't announced his plans. Five other newcomers announced plans to run for City Council.